What makes Figment Figment? Well, there are forums and blog posts and writing groups and featured books. But what really makes this place special are all of you Figs. So you should get some love.
This week we’re featuring Kara Barbieri–a.k.a. Kodi Ross–a 15-year-old prolific writer, reviewer, and interactive fiction pioneer from Illinois, who joined Figment back in January.
What first drew you to Figment?
Actually, my mom was the one who told me about Figment. I was struggling to write a novel and really needed to find a place to get support/advice/critique/etc. She saw Figment featured in Time and said I should check it out. I was actually really scared to because I never had anyone read my writing before . . . but I ended up joining in late January and got addicted right away. So, I gotta thank my mom.
You’ve written a lot on Figment and received a lot of hearts in return. Which of your pieces is your personal favorite?
My personal favorite piece is my “Trial by Fire” novel, commonly known by my friends by its old series name, “Outcasts.” It’s a ‘documentary’ of four teenagers trying to survive an inter-galactic genocide. Which . . . probably sounds really nerdy. My favorite part of it is my characters and their relationships because I make them have a lot of layers and flaws. They’re kinda messed up, but that’s why people like them. The relationships in “Trial by Fire” are a bit . . . off. Not the standard best friend or girlfriend/boyfriend relationships. I enjoy looking into the psychological aspects of relationships and the problems people have within them.
You’re doing an interactive Hunger Games fanfic. Tell us a little bit about that project! It seems like a cool idea.
It’s really fun to do them. I did one once on another forum I used to be on. The basic outline of it is this: you’re the Gamemaker. Your readers are the 24 tributes/characters. They make up their characters’ personalities and everything about them, but you’re the primary writer.
The way I do it, I use two characters’ POV’s in each chapter and have them go through normal Hunger Games stuff. Players can do interactive things like earn sponsor money or make bets or send gifts. It’s interactive fiction–really fun. I suggest you guys try it!
You’ve said that if you could be any literary character, you would choose Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files. What draws you to that series and that character?
The Dresden Files is an epic series for me because the main character Harry Dresden is really plucky and wise-cracking and snarky. He’s a wizard who solves crimes for the Chicago PD and there’s a bunch of magic and cool supernatural stuff involved. Jim Butcher puts such a unique spin on the mythology and the characters. Harry Dresden is an interesting character in and of himself because, besides his wizard powers, he’s definitely struggling to stay on the ‘good side.’ He has to deal with a lot of temptation from the bad guys and throughout the series he’s really become darker. I think it’d be a good challenge to be him.
You’ve written a lot of reviews! What’s your review process like? What do you look for in a fic?
For my reviewing, I usually focus on character development and plot instead of grammar, wording, and spelling because those are the two things I’m best at. I try to give advice on how to make characters more believable and more fun to read about. If there’s a plot issue, I point out the slow bits and offer advice to speed them up.
Where did you get the inspiration for your winning fic?
I get most of my inspiration from music. Everything I’ve written is sort of based on a song. My Fable Contest entry, “Shiny Brass Buttons,” was based on the song “War” by Poets of the Fall. “Trial by Fire” is based on “Don’t Stop” by Innerpartysystem. If there’s a song and I’m inspired by it, I’ll usually write something. For the Hunger Games fanfics, I took a bunch of songs and wrote a chapter based on each one of them.
You’re obviously a big Hunger Games fan–what other authors have really influenced you?
Definitely Jim Butcher. DEFINITELY. Jim Butcher is my god. His characters in The Dresden Files are all so interesting; they’re human and have such great flaws. The world is so interesting and developed. So, when I was writing “Trial by Fire” I was keeping in mind some of his stuff. Besides him I really like Roland Smith and Simone Elkeles. I also read a lot of non-fiction that influences my writings, such as Greg Graffin’s book Anarchy Evolution or Jessica Valenti’s The Purity Myth.
Thank you for taking the time to ask me questions!